Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | People in hurricane-devastated Louisiana feel forgotten … Officers suspended in death of Rochester, New York man while in police custody … Nevada governor ponders allowing bigger religious gatherings.
One of the wildfires raging in California was sparked by a “gender reveal” that featured a “smoke generating pyrotechnic device” set off in long grass. The event on Saturday, later described by officials as involving a group of immediate family members hoping to get a selfie that showed the gender of their baby, was held at El Dorado Ranch Park near Yucaipa in southern California. These kinds of devices will set off blue or pink smoke that shows whether the expected baby is a boy or a girl. The family that held the event tried to put out the blaze and called 911, with Cal Fire officials saying they are cooperating with the investigation. People who cause fires can be charged with a crime or held civilly responsible, particularly if homes are lost or people are injured—which has not yet happened with the El Dorado fire. The El Dorado fire, which has consumed more than 8,000 acres and was 7% contained as of Monday afternoon, is one of many fires raging in California. Labor Day weekend in California was particularly hot, although temperatures were expected to ease Monday and Tuesday. Despite this, officials warned that conditions will remain dangerous in what has already been a record-breaking wildfire season with over 2 million acres burned, thousands of people forced out of their homes and residences destroyed. "Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire,” said Randy Moore, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region. [USA Today; Desert Sun; Los Angeles Times]
HURRICANE FORGOTTEN? | Leaders in southwest Louisiana say they are concerned that people on the national stage aren’t paying attention to the continued plight of their communities more than a week after Hurricane Laura plowed through the state. “I am very concerned that if we don’t keep this narrative out there that D.C. may not remember the catastrophe that happened here in Lake Charles,” said Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles. Around 100,000 people in and around the city still lack reliable water or power. [NOLA.com]
OFFICERS SUSPENDED | The mayor of Rochester, New York suspended seven police officers who were involved in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who suffocated when officers kneeled on his back and held his head to the ground while he was in handcuffs. Mayor Lovely Warren said that she was misled for months about the circumstances of Prude’s death, which happened in March. Originally, Police Chief La’Ron Singletary told her Prude had died of a drug overdose, which Warren said was “entirely different” from what she saw on body camera video. The mayor said she was “deeply, personally and professionally disappointed” in the chief’s response. Protesters have called for both the mayor and police chief to resign. On Saturday, Attorney General Letitia James said she would impanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death. [Associated Press; Washington Post]
RENAMING | Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser curtailed the recommendations of a city commission tasked with reviewing public works named after people with ties to "slavery, systemic racism and other biases” after the White House criticized the suggested renaming of several federal buildings and monuments. Bowser said that she thought the report "would not include any recommendations on federal buildings” and that “the working group landed, like a lot of people do, with a … difficult reconciliation of all of those goals." [CNN]
REOPENING CHURCHES | Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said that he is considering easing coronavirus restrictions on the size of religious gatherings, potentially lifting the current 50-person cap. “We’ve been researching different approaches in terms of how to do that, and using best practices that have been developed in other states," he said. "Trust me, I want to get back to church.” The state’s cap on religious services is currently facing a legal challenge from one rural church. [Associated Press]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.